Integrins mediate cell adhesion, migration, and a variety of signal transduction events. These integrin actions can overlap or even synergize with those of growth factors. We examined for mechanisms of collaboration or synergy between integrins and growth factors involving MAP kinases, which regulate many cellular functions. In cooperation with integrins, the growth factors EGF, PDGF-BB, and basic FGF each produced a marked, transient activation of the ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) class of MAP kinase, but only if the integrins were both aggregated and occupied by ligand. Transmembrane accumulation of total tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins, as well as nonsynergistic MAP kinase activation, could be induced by simple integrin aggregation, whereas enhanced transient accumulation of the EGF-receptor substrate eps8 required integrin aggregation and occupancy, as well as EGF treatment. Each type of growth factor receptor was itself induced to aggregate transiently by integrin ligand-coated beads in a process requiring both aggregation and occupancy of integrin receptors, but not the presence of growth factor ligand. Synergism was also observed between integrins and growth factors for triggering tyrosine phosphorylation of EGF, PDGF, and FGF receptors. This collaborative response also required both integrin aggregation and occupancy. These studies identify mechanisms in the signal transduction response to integrins and growth factors that require various combinations of integrin aggregation and ligands for integrin or growth factor receptors, providing opportunities for collaboration between these major regulatory systems.

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